Hee Hee

I’m not sure what side I fall on regarding the torture issue, quite honestly, but I thought this was funny. From CNN’s “Quote of the Day” webpage:

Wednesday, May. 13, 2009

“You give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.” – JESSE VENTURA, Minnesota governor, sharing his views on torture with CNN talk-show host Larry King


Texas Secession and Michelle’s Organic Garden

So I just found out that the Mid American CropLife Association sent Michelle Obama a letter in response to her planting an organic garden with children at the White House. They apparently objected to the subversive “don’t-use-harmful-chemicals-on-your-food” message. You’ve just got to read this to believe it. And also, Stephen Colbert did a segment on the letter. There’s a link to clip of it below, along with a jab at Rick Perry’s allusions to Texas seceding from the Union over the stimulus money offered to our state.

Last week, “conventional” agriculture advocates at the Mid America CropLife Association took umbrage at Michelle Obama’s organic garden on the White House lawn. After a couple of MACA staff members shuddered at the thought, they sent her a courteous and outrageously absurd email that starts out by congratulating her on having a garden, then spends the next several paragraphs explaining to her just why she shouldn’t have a garden, or for HEAVEN’S SAKE at LEAST not an organic one.

The email denies that how food is grown could be related to its quality: “Much of the food considered not wholesome or tasty is the result of how it is stored or prepared rather than how it is grown.” (Don’t worry, Mom—I’m sure MACA didn’t mean to call you a bad cook.) At this point, it seems like we should be past that debate.

And as Mary Ann Lien points out in her article in the Examiner, the use of the word “conventional” to describe pesticide-based agriculture (and the practice itself) has only developed in the past century or so, while the methods humans have known for thousands of years have somehow morphed into being seen as elitist and fancy. It’s actually a pretty amazing marketing trick when you think about it: it’s now elitist not to buy some extra chemicals to put on your crops, and to do things the way our great-great grandparents did.

The email goes on to explain carefully (and with maximum possible evocations of American-ness): “Many people, especially children, don’t realize the extent to which their daily lives depend on America’s agricultural industry. For instance, children are unaware the jeans they put on in the morning, the three meals eaten daily, the baseball with which they play and even the biofuels that power the school bus are available because of America’s farmers and ranchers.” It’s a cool sentiment, I think: let’s think about how everything we do is connected with the land and the people who work it. But wouldn’t growing a garden be a good thing for all those kids, so they can learn firsthand about the labor involved, and better appreciate the work of farmers? Also, as Mrs. Obama is not a child, I’m not exactly sure of the reason for that emphasis.

Obviously the establishment here is feeling a little threatened. And Mrs. Obama’s steps to plant an organic garden at the White House definitely carry significant symbolic value. But how could NOT using toxic pesticides—oh sorry, crop protection technologies—hurt anyone? Oh. Right. It could hurt someone’s profits. Sorry, agribusiness! Looks like the First Lady ain’t afraid a’ you!

–Erica Schuetz


Community Garden: April Update

This afternoon the four of us all met up in the garden for the first time in about 6 weeks. We weeded, planted some new stuff, and harvested the biggest radishes I’ve ever seen. We got cucumber, tomato, blackberry, peanut, pepper seedlings and some edamame seeds into the ground.


When we got to the garden, we inspected how much everything had grown. That’s when I found THIS underneath the Swiss chard. We had NO IDEA what it was. I thought maybe an animal had wandered through and threw up or something, Rob thought it was a fungus of some sort, and Richie joked that it could be an alien. The mucus -y looking stuff next to it really should be the most disturbing part, but I vote for the blood-colored droplets oozing out of the top. I poked it with a stick, and horror of horrors, it turned out to be red and gooey inside, like gummy bear consistency. It was absolutely disgusting, and Rob, good father that he is, took it away. I did some Internet research and found that we are the proud owners of a very disturbing slime mold. Apparently it’s not harmful to the plants, and it’s probably a result of the organic hardwood mulch we put down. I found some Flickr photos that look exactly like ours (but bigger!), which makes me feel better. I also found out that there’s a relative of our Bleeding Goo called Dog Vomit Mold! Freaky.



After we got rid of the Bleeding Goo, I pulled a LOT of weeds while the boys made a trellis for the new cucumber plants. We bought three posts and some rust-resistant wire at Home Depot, and they threaded it through the post holes. I got three different kinds of cucumbers, and I think the wire is strong enough to hold the larger ones, which will be about nine inches. Richie made a similar one in the plot next to ours, and his sugar snap peas have started to climb it. Does anyone one know if the way we planted our cucumbers here (photo below) is okay, or if there is a better way? The package said to make hills and plant several per hill, but we’re working with a long, narrow space, so we thought we’d try putting them next to each other, several inches apart.




Jen brought her dog Charlie to play with us! I love him. He sat tied to the workbench and watched us.


Our friend Aleah came out to see the garden, and she helped water. She worked for an organic farm in CO for a while, and she said our plot was looking good, so I take that as encouragement.



Jen brought four tomato plants, and we got them in the ground in the last large, open, rectangle space, along with two pepper plants and three edamame seeds.


The potatoes have been growing like crazy. Jon recently filled the barrel in with soil. We were supposed to add it incrementally as the plants grew, but they got away from us. Hope that’s not a problem.


Jon planted some peanut plants (on the right below)! That orange bottle is a natural insect/mold/mite deterrent made from garlic, peppermint oil, and carrot juice.


We harvested a lot of the radishes that were ready. And when I say “ready,” I mean GIANT. Most were the same pink color, but we had a couple of darker ones. Some looked like the seeds either joined forces or had twins attached the them at the bottom. Some were round and bulby, and some were tall and skinny – probably a result of how close together the seeds were.




I planted some impatiens I ordered for my cousin’s cheerleading fundraiser in the cement blocks that are holding up the back wall. It looks a little prettier back there now. Hope they make it. I know even less about flowers than I do about vegetables.


We have one lone sugar snap pea that sprouted this week. We’ve been eating spinach, radishes and broccoli for a couple of weeks now. I had some broccoli at a restaurant yesterday, and it just paled in comparison to ours! Fresh from the garden, it’s more tender and much sweeter. I’m pretty happy with how things have been going, especially considering just how much of an experiment this is for all of us. I’m still shocked every time I cut up a radish for a sandwich that I GREW that radish. I’m amazed to look at a veggie stir-fry for some pasta and see that piece of broccoli that wouldn’t exist were it not for our determination to bring it into being. It’s been raining a lot, and I know that has helped. I don’t know if we’re doing better or worse than others, but I’m very happy with our little community garden plot so far.